Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

"Taking Shakespeare"suited to Stratford's Studio Theatre
Taking Shakespeare

With only two characters, Prof played by Martha Henry and Murph played by Luke Humphrey, the small, verging-on-intimate Studio Theatre seems to fill the bill as the 75-year-old esteemed actor downs endless cups of black coffee in her book-lined set, trying to fan the flames of Shakespearian appreciation in Luke to establish a growing enthusiasm for Othello.

Simple, eh? After all, we all have had one or more teachers to inspire us as students, and I fondly recall loving Shakespeare from the start which was The Merchant of Venice then Julius Caesar then Macbeth.

The role of Prof was expressly written by John Murrell for Martha Henry who happens to head Stratford's actors' conservatory, and Luke Humphrey is a recent conservatory graduate. (He's D'Artagnan in this season's Three Musketeers).

Henry revels in Shakespearean verse and exposes us to Prof's eccentricities, living alone, and enjoying an uneasy relationship with her faculty, lamenting the lack of humanity in the humanities. Humphrey is a great match for her at the other end of the spectrum, and it will be fun to watch his progress.

And speaking of the bard, Diana Leblanc offers this verse as the program's Director's Notes:

Words, words, words says Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare.
Tweet, tweet and Twitter says the Twittersphere,
We keep doing it, don't we? Reaching out,
To the other. Keen minds and hungry hearts.
Prof knows much: life and sadness, the great Will.
Murph plays games, plays hooky, longs to wander still.
They clash, collide and crush. Oh, what a rush!
Murrell's play is sharp and clear; it gives a push.
Othello's greatness, blackness, soulful verses
Here are parsed and scanned. illuminated.
Iago's bleakness, darkness, says he's soulless.
He chills and thrills, leaves the heart abraded.
Our play's about love: We love the words, the teacher
We aim to please, make you a Shakespeare lover.

Taking Shakespeare plays in the Studio Theatre to September 27.

Luke Humphrey as Murph. Photo by V. Tony Hauser  Martha Henry as Prof and Luke Humphrey as Murph. Photo by V. Tony Hauser  Martha Henry as Prof and Luke Humphrey as Murph. Photo by V. Tony Hauser  Martha Henry as Prof. Photo by V. Tony Hauser  Martha Henry. Photo by Don Dixon

Taking Shakespeare | 2013 Stratford Festival

Taking Shakespeare by John Murrell - Excerpt 1

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